Josh Brolin’s career is a fascinating one. From co-starring in The Goonies, to being a supporting character in many not-so-great flicks, to perennial Oscar contender, Brolin has become one of the most consistent, diverse, and interesting actors working today. Brolin has owned 2018, starring in Avengers Infinity War, Deadpool 2, and Sicario: Day of Soldado, which comes out this weekend. So in honor of his incredible year and his latest film, let’s take a look at the best Josh Brolin movies.
This list is based on Brolin’s performance and quality of the movie.
5 – DAN WHITE in MILK (Gus Van Sant, 2008)
Brolin’s only Oscar nomination (a travesty) was for one of his more under-the-radar performances. Dan White is a straight-laced, conservative politician trying to work with the new politician in the office, Harvey Milk (Oscar winner Sean Penn) even though he disagrees with Milk on nearly everything, politically and lifestyle wise. This drives White mad, to the point where he assassinates Milk in a fit of rage and revenge after Milk lobbied for White to not return to his position. Watching Brolin descend from new, open-eyed politician to a sad, angry man is something to behold. It showed Brolin’s full range as an actor and he is the one performance in the film Sean Penn didn’t overshadow. Milk is a great American biopic led by two top-notch performances.
4 – DETECTIVE TRUPO in AMERICAN GANGSTER (Ridley Scott, 2007)
2007 was a hell of a year for Brolin, as he starred in three great films from three great directors. Seeing him as the dirty, arrogant detective in Ridley Scott’s crime epic is what really put him on the map for me. There’s an electricity to Brolin’s performance in this film. He goes toe-to-toe with acting greats Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe and goes beat-for-beat with them. You hate the corrupt and smug Trupo, yet you love every time he is on screen and that just shows the power of Brolin as an actor.
3 – LT. DET. CHRISTIAN F. “BIGFOOT” BJORNEN in INHERENT VICE (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014)
Inherent Vice is one of the weirder movies I’ve ever seen. Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s noir novel is a trippy, twisty, sometimes confusing film, but one that is wildly entertaining and filled with a stellar cast. Brolin is the standout amongst this incredible ensemble, as the high-strung, hippie-hating cop who’s damn good at his job. The relationship Bigfoot has with Doc (Joaquin Phoenix) is fascinating and compelling. One minute, Bigfoot is breaking down Doc’s door and eating (literally) all of his weed, the next, they’re having breakfast discussing a breakthrough in the case. It’s such a multifaceted performance and Brolin hit’s every note just right. In such a weird, bizarre movie, Brolin keeps it grounded, both within the movie and for the audience. Moto pannukakku!
2 – EDDIE MANNIX in HAIL, CAESAR! (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2016)
Hail, Caesar! is a movie that only gets better the more you watch it. The Coen Brothers crafted one of their finest comedies to date. Taking us back to 1950’s Hollywood, Brolin stars as a studio “fixer”, a man who is hired by the studios to make sure their movie-stars stay out of the headlines for their troublesome behavior. When the studios biggest star goes missing, Mannix goes on his biggest mission yet, all while dealing with a number of other studio problems and life dilemmas. Brolin gives a great, funny performance in a really tricky role. It is a performance that requires restraint, charisma, toughness, and vulnerability, and Brolin balances all of them to give us one of the Coen’s best characters. This is one of the most underrated performances of the decade.
1 – LLEWELYN MOSS in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
No Country for Old Men is a flat out masterpiece and really the launching point of Brolin’s stardom. Brolin plays the mouse in a cat-and-mouse chase, as he attempts to run away from murdering psychopath Anton Chigurh (Oscar winner Javier Bardem) after he finds a briefcase of money that belongs to Chigurh. In a nearly wordless performance, Brolin conveys all of his emotions with his face and his body. He shows Llewelyn’s fear, intensity, and desperation as he continuously tries to shake Chigurh to no avail. Like his performance as Eddie Mannix above, this is a tricky performance that not many actors could pull off. We have to empathize with Moss, even though he is greedy and puts everyone around him in danger because he won’t return the money, and Brolin makes that happen, having us root for Llewelyn to get away from Chigurh. It is masterful work in one of the best movies of the 2000’s, which is why No Country for Old Men is the best Josh Brolin movie.
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